St. Simons Island is a peaceful respite with coastal southern charm. It’s more about marsh vistas and quiet beach walks than beach bars. From the First Coast, a St. Simons Island slip-away requires less than two hours on the road. With plenty of time left in your weekend to unplug, the only unsettling question that will haunt you on this getaway is why didn’t we explore this little gem of the Golden Isles sooner?

“The state of Georgia is home to one-third of the marshlands on all of the Atlantic Coast,” says St. Simons Lighthouse Historian Curt Smith. A glance to either side of the Torras Causeway, the only island access, offers an expansive view of these marshes. If you arrive in late-afternoon, you’ll see why this coastal region of Georgia is called the Golden Isles—sunlight reflects off the marsh grasses, casting a romantic, golden glow.

Bed and breakfast inns and small hotels dot the island, but to really treat yourself, and immerse yourself in the island’s history and culture of hospitality, stay at The King and Prince Hotel, which “is an icon of St. Simons,” Smith says. With a history that stretches back to late nights as a seaside dance club in the 1930s, the property has seen many changes. St. Simons was primarily a sleepy coastal village through the 1940s, when the island patriotically joined the war effort. The King and Prince Hotel became a Naval facility, monitoring German U-boat activity off the Atlantic Coast and protecting the region. In 1947, the resort reopened, and continues to host guests in both renovated and recently built oceanfront rooms, cottages and houses.

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Cap Fendig, a seventh generation local and owner of Lighthouse Trolley, calls his hometown “the impeccable weather island.” He says there is no better place to wake up on St. Simons than in one of The King and Prince’s oceanfront rooms. On the rare days when a storm is brewing off-shore, the clouds only make sunrises over the Atlantic more striking. Tall palm silhouettes rise above the resort’s five azure lit pools—a beautiful contrast against the morning sky.

For those who crave activity, The King and Prince’s award winning golf course winds through salt marshes and forested land on the largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Nature and history-based learning excursions also abound on the island. Delicious and healthy breakfast options at ECHO, the resort’s restaurant, will provide the fuel needed to enjoy the day’s activities to the fullest.

A vacation should provide unique experiences that take you out of life’s daily routines and inject fun, relaxation and a bit of pampering. The King and Prince is a perfect respite close to home.

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A Day on St. Simons Island

There is a lot to love about this little low country island. Locals tipped us off to these don’t miss highlights:

  • Two historic experiences, one affordable admission: Climb the lighthouse to get the full scope of St. Simons Island’s natural beauty. Take a short drive to learn about St. Simons Island’s unique role in World War II at the Coastal Maritime Center.
  • Cap’n Credle’s Eco Adventure: Board a shrimping boat and learn the importance of environmental importance of estuaries.
  • Sandcastle Restaurant’s homemade cinnamon rolls: The highlight of a weekend breakfast. More information at sandcastleatthepier.com.
  • Live on island time—bike to lunch and shopping: 21 miles of bike paths wind under St. Simon’s oak canopy and provide safe trails to explore nature, shops and restaurants. Rentals are available from Ocean Motion. More information at stsimonskayaking.com.
  • Learn from a local celebrity: Cap Fendig’s Trolley Tours are led by locals who love where they live. If you’re lucky enough to meet Cap himself when you climb aboard, you’ll shake the hand of a 7th generation local who was a commissioner for 8 years, Captain in the Coast Guard and even ran for President of the United States
  • DelSur Restaurant brings big
    city taste to small town Georgia: Enjoy Hernan Stutzer’s signature Argentinian & Italian flavors: homemade pastas, empanadas and short ribs are highlights on the well-rounded menu. More information at delsursaintsimons.com.

Traveler’s Tips:

Where to Stay: Request a room in the Oceanfront Building for breathtaking views of the pool and ocean.

Family Friendly: Kiddie pools, meals tailored for little tykes and royal crowns at check-in extend a first-class welcome to children visiting the resort.

What to Bring: A good book and a swimsuit, any time of year, because the pools are heated.

Must Do: An aromatherapy massage in the Royal Treatment Cottage.

Fun Fact: The King & Prince opened as a seaside dance club in 1935. Renovations unveiled hidden architectural gems from those days.

For more information visit kingandprince.com.